Mothers are special. Growing up, they ruled households, thrashed and frightened us brood into line with scathing and sarcastic one-liners. In fact, only capital offences were referred to ‘His Excellency the Dad,’ because often, kids feared mummy’s mouth more than dad’s beating. Here are some famous quotes from mothers.
1. Nimetoka. Naenda chama. Nirudi nipate hizo nguo zimenyeshewa, sawa baba?
She would say this very calmly, as if imploring you to actually let the rains pound the clothes and the maize that was being sun-dried outside the door on a mkeka.
You would make sure you don’t forget to let the clothes get rained on, until someone suggested that you go sliding downhill on a banana stalk. Torn shorts and 30 minutes after the rains, it hit would hit you that tomorrow’s school uniform is dripping wet on the cloths line. The thought of the consequences was even more traumatising.
2. Enda ulale pahali umetoka, nyumba yangu watu hawaingii usiku
An angry mother would say this, at three in the afternoon, accusing her daughter of coming home at ‘night!’ The girl had probably left church at midday, but detoured to an auntie’s house for lunch, hence coming home ‘late’.
3. Endelea kusimama hapo nje ya duka ya Joshua
That calm and cold warning will be accompanied by puncline: Msichana wa pastor alisimama hapo wiki mbili na akapata mimba, wewe pia endelea tuu.Utapata chenye unataka!
This would be directed at a daughter, after her mother had seen her laughing sheepishly for two seconds with the village shopkeeper. She will finish her lecture with, “You want to bring shame to this family like Akoth who killed her father?” Never mind that although Akoth got pregnant, her father died fighting over a barmaid in the local bar.
4. Eeh, vunja, vunja yote, baba yako atanunua!
Mothers believed that we deliberately broke glasses and plates. It was never an accident, unless the glass shattered in their own hands. The dig about daddy was extremely bitter because fathers of that era would never have been caught dead buying ‘womens things’ like cups and plates.
5. Ulikuwa wapi dadako akienda kupata mimba kwa Tony?
This was a question all first-born siblings were asked. If your sister got impregnated by Tony, it was your fault. If your younger brother sliced his finger with a rusty razor blade, you were toast. Explains why most first-borns are ridiculous irritable.
6. Ulioga leo?
This is a question most boys dreaded. It was usually asked when you were just about to dig into your dinner, and the food on the table was a rare delicacy, like kuku or chapati.
The dirty boy would then be asked to go take a shower as his seven hungry siblings devoured the meal. But mum, ever kind, always split the food and kept it warm for the boy dispatched to the shower.
7. Cheza tu kwa matope
Wewe ndio huosha nguo, sindiyo? That’s a question you never responded to if you had a brain, which we generally didn’t. Mum wasn’t encouraging you to keep playing. She was warning you that a ringing slap was headed your way.
I really wonder why mothers were opposed to boys taking a skinny dip in a muddy pond or playing in the rain.
Somehow, you pulled off a silly misdemeanour – like pinching your kid brother seconds before dinner. Mama would quickly whack you across the face and when you let out an ear-splitting scream, she would order you to shut up with such menace that you ceased yelling immediately, like a radio that had been switched off. “Eat!” she would thunder. And so you ate amid muffled sobs.
9. Nilikwambia uwache kula chakula ya barabara!
Be it malaria, measles or chicken pox, mum somehow believed you were somehow responsible for falling sick. And if you got hurt, you didn’t get a hug, you got clobbered! But at least you got to drink Fanta while recovering.
10. You were number two? That girl who was number one, does she have three heads?
This is a question you were asked even if you scored 98 per cent in maths. Mother would behave like you were a numbskull, only for you to later hear her tell neighbours how you are such a sweetie!